Notebook: Rockets 105, Pistons 96



Posted Oct 31, 2012 11:55 PM

By Dana Gaurauder, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: James Harden, acquired in a blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City over the weekend, sparkled in his Houston debut with 37 points and 12 assists as the Rockets defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-96 Wednesday at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Harden's new backcourt partner, Jeremy Lin, supplied 12 points, eight assists and four steals in his first game as the Rockets' starting point guard. Guard Brandon Knight led the Pistons in their opener with 15 points.

QUOTABLE: "It's a new role for me. I think everybody knows that. My job is just to do the best I can every day, whether it's in a game, in a practice, whether it's off the court, charity events, whatever the case may be. I just have to be a leader out there."
-- Harden on becoming the Rockets' franchise player

THE STAT: 25. Harden was used in a sparkplug role with the Thunder but he was never asked to carry the offense the whole way. He was a third wheel to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but he quickly embraced his responsibility as Houston's primary threat. He attempted 25 field goals and made 14.

TURNING POINT: Down 83-72 early in the fourth, Houston responded with a 25-6 outburst. Harden sparked it with a 3-pointer and forward Greg Smith contributed three dunks. A pair of Carlos Delfino 3-pointers finished it off to give the Rockets an eight-point advantage, 97-89. Detroit never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

QUOTABLE II: "The ball is going to find him a lot because he's a good player. If you play the right way, the ball finds the right guy at the right time."
-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale on Harden

HOT: Delfino, who played for Toronto last season, made a quick impact as the Rockets' sixth man. He made 5-of-6 3-point attempts against one of his former teams. The veteran swingman also grabbed seven rebounds.

NOT: The Pistons rely heavily on their backcourt of Rodney Stuckey and Knight and they both failed to deliver. Stuckey shot just 1-for-10 from the field, as Harden played just as well defensively as he did offensively. Knight only went 5-for-15 from the field, often forcing shots, and had just four assists from his point guard spot.

ROOKIE WATCH: Detroit reserves Kyle Singler and Kim English were impressive in their debuts. Singler, who played in Europe last season, had 10 points while second-rounder English contributed eight.

NOTABLE: Harden agreed to a five-year extension worth approximately $80 million. "He's gifted," McHale said. "When a lot of stuff happens like this, you may go and try too hard. He's just going to have to relax and play and he'll be fine. ... Houston starting forward Patrick Patterson missed the game with a left quad strain. Pistons backup forward Corey Maggette sat out with a left calf strain. ... Pistons second-year owner Tom Gores said he expected his team to make the playoffs this season. "I came here to win. I'm a now person," he said. "Last year, we said we're going to get into the playoffs (this season) and I meant it. We need to get into the playoffs." ... None of the Rockets starters had ever started an NBA opener.

UP NEXT: For the Rockets, Friday @ Atlanta, Saturday vs. Portland, Wednesday vs. Denver. For the Pistons, Friday @ Phoenix, Sunday @ L.A. Lakers, Tuesday @ Denver.